Filipinos can still fish in disputed sea – Lorenzana
MANILA, Philippines — Filipino fishermen can still ply their trade in the South China Sea not covered by any restrictions in the area.
In an online interview uploaded on social media on Tuesday, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Filipinos could fish in the Spratlys archipelago and Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal because China’s fishing moratorium in the South China Sea did not cover Filipinos.
“I don’t think [the moratorium] covers us because we also claim the area. So I think our fishermen can still go there because we have no ban on our fishermen going there,” he said.
According to Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post, the Chinese government’s fishing ban covered the Bohai Sea, Yellow Sea, East China Sea and South China Sea to improve marine ecology and ensure sustainable fishing.
The Chinese government imposes the fishing moratorium in the South China Sea every year from May 1 to Aug. 16.
“Maybe they are banning their fishermen to … let the fish or any of the resource of the sea to recover because they have been fishing heavily in those areas. They have lots of boats [that] have been fishing there [and] that area is in danger of being overfished,” Lorenzana said.
He also said China had not interfered in the facility improvements being undertaken by the defense department on Philippine-occupied Pag-asa (Thitu) Island, although the military had reported the presence of hundreds of Chinese maritime militia vessels near the island.
“We are going to continue improving our runway there, plus the shelter for fishermen near Pag-asa until [these are] completed,” Lorenzana said. —Jeannette I. Andrade
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